10 facts you probably didn't know about sepsis

1. Sepsis can occur when the body starts to fight an infection; it can trigger the immune system to go into overdrive, damaging the body's own tissues and organs. Untreated, sepsis leads to multiple organ failure and death.

2. Symptoms of sepsis include a rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, a change in behaviour (confusion, drowsiness or slurring words - patients can appear 'drunk'), hypothermia, diarrhoea, changes in skin colour, sore throats and flu-like symptoms.

3. If diagnosed and treated in the first hour following presentation with sepsis, the patient has more than an 80% survival rate. After the sixth hour, the patient only has a 30% survival rate.

4. In the UK, it's estimated that we see 102,000 cases of severe sepsis every year, with a staggering 37,000 deaths. In comparison, breast cancer claims around 12,000 lives each year.

5. Sepsis is one of the biggest direct causes of death in pregnancy in the UK.

6. It consumes over a third of our most expensive hospital beds in Intensive Care and costs the NHS around £2.5 billion a year.

7. Global figures: in the developing world, sepsis kills more than 6 million neonates and children yearly. Every hour, about 1,000 people die from sepsis worldwide.

8. The UK Sepsis Trust public awareness poll in 2014 found that 40% of the public had heard the word 'sepsis' but of those, only 40% knew it was a medical emergency.

9. Awareness is the number one cure for sepsis. Raising recognition of the disease and increasing the number of patients treated in the 'Golden Hour' is the single biggest attempt we can make to save lives.

10. With public education, better knowledge and awareness among doctors, nurses and paramedics, and by redesigning the way patients with sepsis are treated, we can save 12,500 lives per year in the UK and shave £170 million from the NHS budget.

Dr Ron Daniels is CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust and a frontline NHS Consultant.

The UK Sepsis Trust is raising money to combat the condition. Best-selling novelist Amanda Prowse is kindly donating all the proceeds from her tenth e-book, "Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats", to the charity. It costs just £1.89 and a copy of the book, which launches on September 10, can be pre-ordered here.


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